UK Men's Basketball

Point guard picture for 2017: ‘It really comes down to who commits first’

Highly touted point guard Tremont Waters talks recruiting

Tremont Waters talks about Kentucky, Duke, his recruitment and the point guard picture in the class of 2017.
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Tremont Waters talks about Kentucky, Duke, his recruitment and the point guard picture in the class of 2017.

Five-star point guard Quade Green — the newest recipient of a University of Kentucky scholarship offer — didn’t take long to figure out what the Wildcats were all about during his unofficial visit to Lexington last week.

“I see a lot of pros on their wall. A lot of pros on their wall,” Green said, speaking of the mural in Rupp Arena featuring UK’s pros. “So that opened my eyes. … When I got there, people were asking for autographs already — as soon as I get there. It’s crazy.”

Getting players to the NBA and playing in front of a rabid fan base sums up John Calipari’s recruiting pitch about as well as possible in so few words, and Green has quickly become one of the Wildcats’ top targets in the class of 2017.

The 6-foot-1 prospect from Philadelphia led the Nike EYBL circuit in assists and steals during the spring, and he came to Peach Jam this week as the floor leader of the PSA Cardinals, who are among the favorites to take home the Nike summer title.

Green’s steadiness on offense and steely intensity on defense have won over college coaches this spring. UK and Duke have both extended scholarship offers in recent days, and his recruitment could ultimately come down to those two schools.

Duke’s coaches have compared him to former Blue Devils point guard Quinn Cook.

“They like my toughness,” Green said. “I control the game and get my teammates involved; I’m real close to my teammates.”

Kentucky’s coaches have seen a little bit of Tyler Ulis in Green’s polished game.

“He opened eyes for everybody, for small point guards,” he said. “He let the small point guards come out and (now) everybody’s seeing them.”

Green said he’s not sure when he wants to make a college decision, but he mentioned UK, Duke and Arizona as the schools that will definitely get official visits.

He also acknowledged the perceived lack of elite point guards in the class of 2017.

Green is just the third point guard from that group that has received a UK scholarship offer, joining Trae Young and Tremont Waters. Duke seems to be zeroing in on Green as its top target at the position, and both schools will be looking to add one five-star point guard for next year.

“It really comes down to who commits first,” Green said. “That’s what I’m thinking: whoever commits first gets it. Kentucky said that. Duke said that.”

Still a priority

Trae Young, who has been UK’s top point guard priority in the 2017 class for more than a year, seemed unshaken by the Wildcats’ recent offer to Quade Green.

“I know that schools are going to offer other players, just like I’m going to be looking at other schools,” he said.

Young — a 6-2 prospect from Oklahoma — played alongside Green at the Team USA U18 tryouts last month in Colorado and was impressed with his game.

He went as far as to say that he’d consider teaming up with Green in college.

“Quade’s a really good player,” Young said. “We’ve played together, and we’re really close off the court. He’s a great player, and I can definitely see myself playing in a backcourt with him.

“The past few championship (teams) have been with two smaller guards. So I can definitely see myself playing with another guard. … Whatever I feel is the best situation for me, I’m going to go there.”

Young said he talks to UK’s coaching staff on a regular basis, and he’s still planning to cut his list to five or six schools after this week’s Peach Jam. The Wildcats will almost certainly be on the list of finalists.

“(They) make sure to show that I’m a top priority in their class, and that really stands out to me,” he said. “They stay in contact quite a bit.”

Cats looking good national recruiting analyst Evan Daniels told the Herald-Leader that UK appears to be in good shape with both Green and Young.

“If you were going to handicap the Trae Young sweepstakes, I’d say it’s probably Kentucky and Oklahoma sitting at the top of the list,” Daniels said. “And with Quade, he’s taken recent visits to Duke and Kentucky, and they both prioritized him. And history tells us that when Duke and Kentucky prioritize you, they’re going to be in pretty good shape. I’d say Kentucky is in great shape with both of those guys.

“At this point, you have to think that they would likely get one of them.”

Daniels isn’t bullish on UK’s chances to land both five-star point guards, however.

“I don’t see that scenario at all,” he said.

Taking his time

Tremont Waters — the other point guard in the class of 2017 with scholarship offers from UK and Duke — said Friday that the Wildcats’ coaching staff is still in regular contact with his father, but he doesn’t talk much to coaches himself.

The four-star prospect from New Haven, Conn., mentioned Indiana, Kansas, Georgetown, Providence and UConn as some of the other schools recruiting him.

If Quade Green is correct and it will indeed be a race to see which point guards commit to UK and Duke first, Waters doesn’t seem a likely candidate to rush a decision.

“For me, it’s not about going to a big-time school,” Waters said. “Obviously, those are great schools — top of the line. But, if they commit first, I’m not going to cry or pout about it, because I obviously have to pick the best school that fits my game and my situation.”

Ben Roberts: 859-231-3216, @NextCats